Lead in water shuts off faucets at NYC schools

"Aquathin OP-ED Commentary"

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Lead in water shuts off faucets at NYC schools

NEW YORK — The New York City school system has shut off drinking fountains and posted warning signs on sinks at about one in five of its public elementary schools, after finding that the level of lead in the water exceeded federal standards.  The New York Times said the lead was found in water at 222 of the city's 990 elementary schools during tests that started in August.  The levels were not high enough to pose a significant health risk, said David Chai, a spokesman for Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, but officials began notifying parents, principals and unions at the schools by letter, the newspaper said.  All told, 298 sinks, used mainly for washing hands, and 254 drinking fountains were found to have water that exceeded the federal government's recommended safe level for drinking water, 20 parts per billion, Chai said, according to the Times.  Officials said the source of the lead appeared to be old pipes, said the article.

The city began daily flushing of the water systems of all schools in August to minimize the possibility of lead in the water until each school had its water tested, officials said.

Plumbing systems and fixtures once routinely used lead, but that is now prohibited, according to the website of the New York City Health Department, the article said.  Lead can disrupt the growth and development of a child's brain and nervous system, and is most dangerous to children younger than 6, according to the newspaper. At high levels, it can damage the kidneys, blood and brain.


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Edited from Tech Bank 11/11/02